Thursday, January 26, 2017
Conducted in December and January and published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the new survey shows that nearly three-quarters of general practitioners favored making changes to the Obama administration’s signature healthcare reform measure.
But in this nationally representative sample of primary care doctors, only 15% favored the law’s repeal. Among responding physicians who voted for Donald Trump, only 38% favored the law’s repeal.
That makes the repeal of the Affordable Care Ac, also known as Obamacare, far less popular among the physicians on the front lines of medicine than it is in the American body politic. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll taken after the November 2016 election found that 26% of Americans wanted to see Obamacare repealed.
Among the survey’s most striking findings was strong support for an extension of the Affordable Care Act that is absent from any GOP proposals: Two-thirds of primary care physicians endorsed the idea that any healthcare reform should include a public insurance option resembling Medicare that would compete with private plans.
Study coauthor Dr. Craig Evan Pollack, an internal medicine specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said he was struck by the strength of physicians’ opposition to measures that increased complexity and shifted costs toward patients. He suggested it was a direct result of doctors’ experience in caring for patients.
“As physicians, we see people struggle with out-of-pocket costs, deciding which types of care they’re able to afford and making very challenging decisions,” said Pollack. Primary care physicians, he added, “try to advocate for their patients.”
The new survey reflects the answers of 426 physicians drawn from a master file of the American Medical Assn. and is considered a nationally representative sample. Its findings appear to mark a significant shift in physicians’ opinions about the Affordable Care Act. In the opening months of 2015, 48% of primary care physicians had a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act and 52% viewed it unfavorably.
Dr. David Grande, an internal medicine physician at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, said that as the Affordable Care Act got up and running, virtually all of his colleagues have treated new patients who had previously been uninsured or who struggled to hold on to insurance.